I had the pleasure of being asked to write for the Guardian's CiF site yesterday about the media coverage of Burma and China - you can find the piece here. It was interesting for me to sit down and think why these disasters are still in the news, when other disasters - Hurricane Stan, the Java mudslides, the Peruvian earthquake in the past - have not done so; and what we can learn from this in order to improve reporting in future.
It was also interesting - and instructive - to read the comments. Several seemed to think I was against disaster reporting; not my intention, what I am concerned about is how to sustain good humanitarian reporting in future.
However I was particularly struck by one by Liuzhoukaf who pointed out that it was wrong to say that there had been little citizen journalism from China and Burma; that there had been in China and if it had not been recognised in the West then that was because it was in Chinese. S/he makes a good point; I was thinking in terms of the British media (which used 5 mins of UGC video at News at Ten on Monday which I mentioned at the top of the piece) and did not make that clear enough.
Of course as mentioned earlier there are claims that news of the earthquake broke on Twitter. Perhaps in writing the piece quickly I did not make it clear as it should have been. With Burma the situation is slightly different; as one producer said to me 'the cyclone succeeded where the junta failed' - the huge amount of UGC we saw after the protests last year has not been repeated because of sheer logistics, and power failures. But as Roland Buerk reported, DVDs are now on sale in Rangoon of film of the cyclone and there have been examples - particularly on Global Voices and the BBC of people trying to get the stories out. But due to the sheer devastation there has been less.
I can't finish this post however without mentioning Jay73's verdict
"I have only read Glenda's profile and the headline of this article so all I know at the moment is that she specialises in crap titles for things and looking scarily intense in photographs."
Hahahaha. Too true (although I didn't write the headline in this case). The sad thing is, as anyone who's met me knows, I look scarily intense in real life as well.